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A STORY ABOUT A REAL MAN                                                                         07

at the nearest Junkers; the latter dropped, and Gheslov,
his follower, and the third man in his flight plunged
through the breach in the German line. The Germans at
once closed up and the Junkers continued on their way
in perfect formation.

Alexei gave his call signal and wanted to shout:
"Attack!" but he was so excited that all he could say was
"A-a-a!" He was already swooping down, seeing nothing
except the smooth-sailing German line. He chose as his
target the plane that had taken the place of the one
Cheslov had shot down. He heard a ringing in his ears,
his heart throbbed so violently that he almost choked.
He caught the target in his sight and, keeping his two
thumbs on his trigger-buttons, swept towards it. Wisps
of grey, fluffy string shot past him. Aha! They're shoot-
ing! Missed! Again. Nearer this time. No damage! What
about Petrov? Not hurt, either. He's on port side. Dodged
'em. Good lad! The grey side of the German plane grew
longer in his sight. His thumbs felt the cool aluminium
buttons. Just a little closer___

That was the moment when Alexei felt that he had
become completely merged with his machine. He felt the
throbbing of the engine as if it were beating in his breast,
with all his being he felt the sensation of the wings and
the rudder, and it seemed to him that even the clumsy,
artificial feet had acquired sensitiveness and did not
prevent him from uniting with his machine in its swift
movements. The graceful, streamlined body of the fascist
machine slipped out of his sight, but he caught it again
and pressed his trigger. He did not hear the shots, he
did not even see the string of tracer bullets, but he knew
that he had scored and rushed on, convinced that his
victim would drop and he would not collide with him.
Glancing away from his sight he was surprised to see
another plane hurtle down. Had he hit two? No. That
was Petrov's doing. He was on his starboard. Not bad
for a greenhorn! His young friend's luck pleased him
more than his own.

The second flight slipped through the breach in the
German formation. And then the fun began. The second
wave of German machines, evidently piloted by less
experienced airmen, broke formation. The planes of